Review: You can always rely on 5 Borough Breaks for some top shelf hip hop. The label's latest missive is a legendary one from O.C. - "Time's Up" is a rousing, hard hitting beat with an even tougher verse that rides on the booming kicks. It also samples Les DeMerle's "A Day In The Life" which just so happens to be pressed on the flip and yes, it is in fact a cover of The Beatles. Here though, it becomes a stirring big bang jazz cut that forms an impressive wall of retro sound that will inject realness and rawness into any party. Like always with this label, quantities are limited so move fast to get your fix.
Review: Reissued to mark its 40th anniversary, Black Fairy is as unique a document as they get: a jazz funk musical that tells the tale of Africa American history for children. Penned to help alleviate or counter a strong sense of injustice and inequality felt by black children the 70s, the Chicago community group La Mont Zeno Theatre tackle the brutal past - from Egypt to slavery to racial segregation - with clarity and empowerment. Musically it's at once raw and soulful, sitting somewhere between Hathaway and Scott Heron but lyrically the story has never been told like this before or after.
Review: Finnish jazz scene heavyweights Timo Lassy (saxophone) and Teppo Makynen (drums) are old studio buddies. They've released a number of collaborative singles, but this self-titled set is their first joint album. After kicking off via the slow-burn ambient jazz creepiness of "Fallow", the pair shuffles through sparse but engrossing cuts that combine Lassy's meandering headline-grabbing saxophone solos with Makynen's ambidextrous drum rhythms and melodic percussion parts (think xylophone, marimba, kalimba etc). It's very experimental in nature and closer in spirit to free-jazz than some of their collaborative work, though the results are uniformly impressive and strangely alluring.
Review: William Emanuel Huddleston, or more commonly known as Yusef Lateef, was and always will be a pillar of 20th century jazz. The monumental figure sadly passed away in 2013, but the spirit of his music will always live on; he was a musician who continuously changed the game, a man who saw no boundaries to the possibilities of jazz music. A talented flutist and saxophonist, he made those instruments his own thanks to a very singular, improvisational approach, and this legendary recording from 1966 at London's Ronnie Scott's is a timeless piece of music. Darting in and out of solos, then back onto more stable grooves, and breaking off into mystical terrains, this is a wonderful recording that deserves to be on a any serious jazz collector's shelf. Highly recommended.
Review: Recorded at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, California in 1974, Azar Lawrence's debut album Bridge Into The New Age has long been considered a cornerstone of spiritual jazz-fusion by collectors. The album contained a notable supporting cast, including a pre-Philadelphia International Jean Carn (whose superb vocals can be heard on a number of album cuts, most notably the superb title track) and Miles Davis' percussionist, James Mtume. The album's genius lies in its breezy combination of psychedelic-era West Coast positivity, Sun Ra style spirituality and the loose-and-improvised ethos of free jazz. Lawrence's soprano and tenor saxophone work is superb throughout, as you'd expect. On this timely reissue, the album has been re-mastered and pressed in audiophile-friendly 180g vinyl.